Fascism returns to Ukraine

Timothy Snyder writes: We easily forget how fascism works: as a bright and shining alternative to the mundane duties of everyday life, as a celebration of the obviously and totally irrational against good sense and experience. Fascism features armed forces that do not look like armed forces, indifference to the laws of war in theirapplication to people deemed inferior, the celebration of “empire” after counterproductive land grabs. Fascism means the celebration of the nude male form, the obsession with homosexuality, simultaneously criminalized and imitated. Fascism rejects liberalism and democracy as sham forms of individualism, insists on the collective will over the individual choice, and fetishizes the glorious deed. Because the deed is everything and the word is nothing, words are only there to make deeds possible, and then to make myths of them. Truth cannot exist, and so history is nothing more than a political resource. Hitler could speak of St. Paul as his enemy,Mussolini could summon the Roman emperors. Seventy years after the end of World War II, we forgot how appealing all this once was to Europeans, and indeed that only defeat in war discredited it. Today these ideas are on the rise in Russia, a country that organizes its historical politics around the Soviet victory in that war, and the Russian siren song has a strange appeal in Germany, the defeated country that was supposed to have learned from it.

The pluralist revolution in Ukraine came as a shocking defeat to Moscow, and Moscow has delivered in return an assault on European history. Even as Europeans follow with alarm or fascination the spread of Russian special forces from Crimea through Donetsk and Luhansk, Vladimir Putin’s propagandists seek to draw Europeans into an alternative reality, an account of history rather different from what most Ukrainians think, or indeed what the evidence can bear. Ukraine has never existed in history, goes the claim, or if it has, only as part of a Russian empire. Ukrainians do not exist as a people; at most they are Little Russians. But if Ukraine and Ukrainians do not exist, then neither does Europe or Europeans. If Ukraine disappears from history, then so does the site of the greatest crimes of both the Nazi and Stalinist regimes. If Ukraine has no past, then Hitler never tried to make an empire, and Stalin never exercised terror by hunger.

Ukraine does of course have a history. The territory of today’s Ukraine can very easily be placed within every major epoch of the European past. Kiev’s history of east Slavic statehood begins in Kiev a millennium ago. Its encounter with Moscow came after centuries of rule from places like Vilnius and Warsaw, and the incorporation of Ukrainian lands into the Soviet Union came only after military and political struggles convinced the Bolsheviks themselves that Ukraine had to be treated as a distinct political unit. After Kiev was occupied a dozen times, the Red Army was victorious, and a Soviet Ukraine was established as part of the new Soviet Union in 1922. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “Fascism returns to Ukraine

  1. Syd

    “…The pluralist revolution in Ukraine…”

    Pluralist! “A social system based on mutual respect for each others’ cultures among various groups that make up a society, wherein subordinate groups do not have to forsake their lifestyle and traditions but, rather, can express their culture and participate in the larger society free of prejudice.” Let’s take a look:
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/18/yes_there_are_bad_guys_in_the_ukrainian_government

    “…Today, Svoboda holds a larger chunk of its nation’s ministries (nearly a quarter, including the prized defense portfolio) than any other far-right party on the continent. Ukraine’s deputy prime minister represents Svoboda (the smaller, even more extreme “Right Sector” coalition fills the deputy National Security Council chair), as does the prosecutor general and the deputy chair of parliament — where the party is the fourth-largest. And Svoboda’s fresh faces are scarcely different from the old: one of its freshmen members of parliament is the founder of the “Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre” and has hailed the Holocaust as a “bright period” in human history. …

    “…Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is on record complaining that his country is controlled by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia,” while his deputy derided the Ukrainian-born film star Mila Kunis as a “dirty Jewess.” Svoboda began life in the mid-90s as the Social-National Party (a name deliberately redolent of the National Socialist Party, better known as Nazis), with its logo the fascist Wolfsangel….

    “…One of its chief demands — that all government business be done in Ukrainian — was passed into law, instantaneously marginalizing the one-third of Ukraine’s citizens (and 60 percent of Crimeans) who speak Russian. Then for good measure, the party launched a push to repeal a law against “excusing the crimes of fascism.”

    So far, I think our fascists have killed more than their fascists. We’re winning!

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